Delayed Impact

May 30, 2006

Yesterday, after returning from Illinois, I spent the afternoon and evening talking to friends on the telephone. All were some what amazed that I plan on trying to have a normal week this week. In explaining my reasons for wanting some normalcy right now I realized that the full impact of my mother's death isn't going to hit me for several days. Most likely the impact will come Saturday during and after the memorial service.

I think we have a "relationship inertia" that keeps us moving forward for some time after the relationship itself is severed for any reason. A couple breaks up and it is a few weeks of months, maybe longer, before the two individuals are free from the orbit they had around the other. When a loved one dies there is a similar lag while the momentum of life carries the living past the point of death. It takes a bit of time to slow down, stop and circle back around to reality of having lost some one forever.

I have known for months that my mother was dying. I knew several years ago when we moved to Washington that I was only going to have a limited number of visits with her again. Every visit with her this spring had the potential to be the last. The first weekend of May, when I was there for my birthday, I talked to her for the last time, and we said goodbye to each other. This past weekend, while she did look at me one time, was really about being with my dad. The spirit and personality that made up my mom was already dying or gone by the time of my arrival.

Humans are creatures of ceremony, and we add importance to major events in our life through ceremony. High school graduations, weddings, birthdays - these are all occasions marked by ceremony. The event will still occur without a ceremony, but marking it through a public display makes it real and tangible. Next weekend my family and I will make the occasion of my mother's death, and celebrate her life through two ceremonies; a private graveside service and public memorial service. The full impact of my loss won't strike me until those events occur.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.